The Herbivore’s Dilemma

I had a real dilemma on Sunday. Someone brought me my dinner to my table and there was cheese on it. This was tough because A) I hate to waste food and B) It’s been so long since I had dairy that I was TERRIFIED it would make me sick. So, while I do hate to waste food, I also hate to be sick so I VERY POLITELY sent the food back.

But then…THEN…the meal came back with meat on it. (It was supposed to be a vegan pizza.) And I was SO TORN because…ACK! Would it make me sick? I don’t think so. And I hate HATE wasting food. But…but…in that moment I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t even pick the meat off the pizza and eat around it. I just stared at it on my plate and just thought of all of the documentaries I’ve watched since June and all of the books I’ve read and I just didn’t really want it even on my plate.


If you had stopped me an hour before and said,”Your vegan pizza is going to have pepperoni in it tonight. Are you going to eat it?”

I would have said Hell yes! I can’t waste food! That’s awful! Anyone who wastes food sucks! BOOOO!!!

But I Could. Not. Do. It.

It was the WEIRDEST thing. And I fought myself over it all night. Should have forced myself to at least pick the meat off of it and eat around it? YES. I really felt like I should have done that. But I just couldn’t. Will I try again next time? Yes. I think next time I could think about this moment and how I felt SO GUILTY about it later and try my best to overcome it so as not to waste the food.

But will I be able to? I don’t know.

Either way – it was a REALLY interesting experience. While I know this is my lifestyle now, it feels right and good, I don’t ever think of it as too extreme. But I did something Sunday I’d never do…I wasted food…just because I couldn’t get these documentaries about factory farming OUT OF MY HEAD. And part of me is kinda proud of that, because that means this is a real commitment I’ve undertaken. But the other part of me was angry at myself because COME ON…DON’T WASTE FOOD YOU STUPID ASSHOLE.


It was just weird. And shocking. I think next time I could force myself to pick the meat off the plate (couldn’t do it with the cheese, obviously) and just remind myself that intentionally throwing out perfectly good food is worse than factory farming…but who knows if it will work? I think I could easily do it with fish. I’ve eaten fish in a few situations where I didn’t have other vegan options because – while fishing can have it’s terrible sides too – I have an easier time overlooking that than with dairy/eggs/meat. There’s HUGE flaws in the fishing industry and the environmental impact is terrible, but I don’t have these horrible pictures of salmon suffering and living in pain like I do with traditional meat sources.

Any other herbivores (remember, I hate the word Vegan) or vegetarians have those type of dilemmas? How did you handle it?

11 thoughts on “The Herbivore’s Dilemma”

  1. I’m a vegetarian and I haven’t eaten meat for about 2 years, but prior to that I didn’t buy meat or order meat for myself (if I was eating out) but if I was somewhere and it was offered and I didn’t have another choice, I would eat it because I just hated to waste food, or be rude to someone who may be offering me food. I could go months and months without eating meat and then have some chicken salad at a work lunch. Eventually I started feeling worse about eating the meat, then wasting the meat. I’m realizing now I don’t have much of a point to this, other than to say, I get the guilt associated with wasting food!

  2. Yes! I understand fully!! The worst is when that happens and it’s pointed out to me that “the animal already died for that *insert meat product here* and you’re just going to throw it away? At least if you eat it, the death will at least be slightly more justified than killing it just to dump it in the trash”. That’s when my brain really breaks down and (yes, it’s true) I nearly cry because I don’t know what to do. I still don’t know how to handle these situations, so any advice insight, or comments on this thread are greatly welcome.

  3. I’ve never been in that situation, so I’m not sure how I would react. But I did want to say, SHAME on them for sending you the wrong meal TWICE! That would drive me equally nuts.

  4. I’ve been (mostly) vegetarian for … 15 years now, and I think for the same reasons you are. I had to stop and think about it and now I’m freaking shocked! How time flies. I want to make the jump to full herbivore, and I’ve done it successfully for a few months at a time, but I doubt I will ever do it for good. All of which is just background for the way *I* choose to handle meat when it’s put on my plate (usually when I’m a guest at a dinner party). If I can’t pick around it, I’ll eat a very small portion and feel horribly guilty later. BUT! I justify it in my head in the following ways: (1) by telling myself that I actually don’t *want* to ever get to the point where eating a small amount of meat makes me ill. I think of it as an involuntary inoculation against the potential for illness in the case of dire emergency where it’s starve or eat meat. I’m an apocalyptic thinker so this doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. (2) There are *so many* animals that have not suffered because of me in the last 15 years. If there is a karmic balance sheet, on this score I am still doing OK. I’m not perfect in any other area of my life, I can be imperfect in this area as well without undoing the good I’ve done every time I’ve chosen not to eat an animal. (Also, I DO NOT judge people who make different choices than I do in this area. There is almost nothing more personal than deciding what we put in or on our bodies. I do what works for me and my life/mental health. You do what works for you. We’re all doing what we think is right and it’s ok.)

  5. I bet a lot of us grew up being told by our parents to clean our plate because there are starving children in Africa, and I think that’s where the wasting food guilt comes from. And I agree that intentionally wasting food is bad. But, let’s be realistic – if I choose not to eat a meal that was served to me in a restaurant, that has absolutely no impact on whether a starving child in Africa is getting food or not. There’s just no connection that way. That was just some ploy our parents used to get us to eat our dinner. We can help starving children much more realistically by giving money through an organization like World Vision or Samaritan’s Purse. The other thing you can think about it is what happens to food when you eat it versus when you throw it away. I won’t go into the less appealing biological functions, but essentially all food ends up going back to the earth, one way or another, to provide nutrients for plants that will then provide oxygen for us. So, whether you eat the meat or throw the meat away, the end result is the same. Please don’t think I’m advocating for wasting food. I’m not. But I don’t think you should have to live your life feeling guilty for sending back a dish with meat or cheese on it.

  6. I started eating vegan in April this year because my cholesterol was climbing and I was getting sick a lot. I was very strict in the beginning but just found it too hard to be perfect all the time (we don’t have many vegan restaurants where I live). I now eat mostly vegan meals but have a non-vegan meal about once a week or fortnight (never meat, usually a small amount of dairy or fish) when I’m at a work function or eating out. Obviously I don’t call myself a vegan.

  7. I wonder what would happen if you asked for it to be remade but told them you didn’t want to waste the wrong one and could they wrap it/box it for your husband? Would they do that?

  8. I would have alerted the waiter and gotten it remade. I can always pass stuff with meat and cheese along to my husband (not that he should be eating it either), but I’ve reached the point where I’m not willing to eat meat at all anymore and I try not to compromise on dairy because I’m allergic to it.

  9. I am an omnivore. Not really answering, but… why does it matter? If I don’t like or want something, I just don’t eat it. I am not of my grandpatents’ generaation that saved string and foil. I have disposable income that allows me to choose my food. So I do.

  10. Just me…I’m like that with clothes and books and plasticware. I avoid waste in all areas of my life. I don’t force it on anyone in my family, just the way I am. I drive to the recyclry for the things the trucks won’t pick up, I take clothes we’ve outgrown to goodwill, I use cookware until it breaks or is trash, and use technology until it’s dead, not until it’s just outdated. Just my personality. Probably my Dad’s influence (he who saved hospital equipment that was heading to the garbage) but I dont’ know. I do know it’s not just food.

  11. That crossed my mind but he already had his dinner and we were staying at a hotel with no fridge…but at home? Totally would have done it that way!!!

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